Sounds of Babel

Today I’m thankful for nonsense sounds.

Sometimes combinations of word sounds just make me laugh.  They sound utterly silly to me.  I don’t know how many other people have similar experiences.  My sample is so far limited to two.

The domain I chose reflects my love of things that sound silly together.  I’m naturally pretty quiet and stern, contrasted by my very absurd sense of humor.  I can be both dark, like thunderheads, and just plain goofy.  It’s reflective of who I am, and sounds a bit like word salad.

 

The Dog With The Snaggletooth

Today I’m thankful for dogs.

This is our family dog.  I couldn’t find any better pictures.  I really have no words other than “here she is.”  Imagine the unlikeliest combination of breeds possible.  Take the scraggly bits of those breeds, mix them together and shorten the legs.  Then, shorten the legs again and you may have an idea of what she looks like in the flesh.  She has the IQ of soup.  She is also one of the sweetest creatures I’ve ever encountered.  Sometimes you just need something warm to hug and she serves that need pretty damn well.

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A Bunch of People Making Noise

Today I’m thankful for choir.

I’ve been singing since I was five.  I have a good, strong voice and can sing a lot of different styles.  I learn quickly by ear and can harmonize pretty much instantly.  To go with that, I can’t read music at all.  Like, if my life depended on sight reading something I would die.  I keep up because I’ve got a good ear.

Singing crazy hard music with a bunch of people who can really, really sing is an accomplishment.  We have to listen, and function as multiple sections of one organism.  It all has to coordinate.  If my section screws up our arpeggios we leave another section out to dry.  Actually, it requires a measure of trust, that the other people have learned their stuff and won’t make the rest sound crappy.  When everything works we produce a massive sound that audiences enjoy and make the effort to come and hear.  It’s pretty cool.

Making Myself Feel Smart

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Today I’m thankful for languages.  No, really.

I studied French in high school.  I remember enough to be understood and I use my phone to practice.  At university I took Russian.  I was very tired of French.  I can ask, in Russian, the location of the train station but I won’t understand the answer.

Languages fascinate me.  I don’t go to the extent of tracing the history of every diacritic, but seeing how words evolve from common roots is truly interesting.  It shows the evolution of ideas, when groups divided or came together.  Learning another language exercises the brain and broadens a person’s horizons.

I’m a native English speaker.  English is a stepchild language if there ever was one.  First it was just another Germanic language, but then the Norse came and give it all sorts of North Germanic influences that made it unique.  THEN the Normans invaded, who had originally spoken Norse but changed to French, and they had a massive impact, leaving Latin and Romance traces everywhere.  As English speakers spread their particular varieties starting including traces of native languages.  English in India is influenced by hundreds of Indian languages.  Spanish is a large player in the United States.  Even in New Zealand Maori has had a large impact.  I think it’s cool, that languages are adapted to circumstances as they arise.  It isn’t a formal progression.  It’s messy and organic, like the rest of life.  They evolve!

I’m trying to learn some Italian.  It’s easier to speak quickly than some others.  In Finnish it seems like every word is 30 letters long, but they are fun words.

Clean Patios and Listening

Today I’m thankful for the old gal I hang out with.

I volunteer with a group that provides respite for caregivers.  I was matched with a widow who needs some help with housekeeping.  It’s really only vacuuming.  She might have me do the bathroom if she’s feeling particularly daring.

Last time I visited I trimmed down her plants for winter and cleaned up her patio.  One of her kids was coming to visit soon.  She told me everything she had planned because she was excited.  All I had to do was listen and nod occasionally.  Don’t ever underestimate the importance of interpersonal contact.  I was probably the only other person she’d seen that day and what she wanted to share was important to her.  Visiting with her is a privilege.